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Crescent pyramid and drop-set systems do not promote greater strength gains, muscle hypertrophy, and changes on muscle architecture compared with traditional resistance training in well-trained men



The aim of this study was to compare the effects of crescent pyramid (CP) and drop-set (DS) systems with traditional resistance training (TRAD) with equalized total training volume (TTV) on maximum dynamic strength (1-RM), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), pennation angle (PA), and fascicle length (FL).


Thirty-two volunteers had their legs randomized in a within-subject design in TRAD (3–5 sets of 6–12 repetitions at 75% 1-RM), CP (3–5 sets of 6–15 repetitions at 65–85% 1-RM), and DS (3–5 sets of ~50–75% 1-RM to muscle failure) protocols. Each leg was trained for 12 weeks. Participants had one leg fixed in the TRAD while the contralateral leg performed either CP or DS to allow for TTV equalization.


The CSA increased significantly and similarly for all protocols (TRAD: 7.6%; CP: 7.5%; DS: 7.8%). All protocols showed significant and similar increases in leg press (TRAD = 25.9%; CP = 25.9%; DS = 24.9%) and leg extension 1-RM loads (TRAD = 16.6%; CP = 16.4%; DS = 17.1%). All protocols increased PA (TRAD = 10.6%; CP = 11.0%; DS = 10.3%) and FL (TRAD = 8.9%; CP = 8.9%; DS = 9.1%) similarly.


CP and DS systems do not promote greater gains in strength, muscle hypertrophy and changes in muscle architecture compared to traditional resistance training.

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One-repetition maximum


Crescent pyramid


Muscle cross-sectional area




Fascicle length


Pennation angle


Principal investigator


Resistance training


Traditional resistance training


Total training volume




Vastus lateralis


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This work was supported by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) Grants (#2015/16090-4 to VA and #2013/21218-4 to CAL) National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) Grant (#406609/2015-2 to CU). We are grateful to 3VS Nutrition—Brazil for donation of Whey Protein. Also, we would like to show appreciation to the participants who participated on this study and to Sayão Futebol Clube—Araras for their support.

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Correspondence to Cleiton Augusto Libardi.

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All procedures performed herein were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Communicated by: Nicolas Place.

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Angleri, V., Ugrinowitsch, C. & Libardi, C.A. Crescent pyramid and drop-set systems do not promote greater strength gains, muscle hypertrophy, and changes on muscle architecture compared with traditional resistance training in well-trained men. Eur J Appl Physiol 117, 359–369 (2017).

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  • Resistance training
  • Total training volume
  • Muscle cross-sectional area
  • Muscle strength
  • Pennation angle
  • Fascicle length